Centre may seek review of SC verdict on mercy petition

New Delhi, Jan 29: The centre Wednesday told the Supreme Court it was considering to seek a review of the court’s verdict holding that inordinate delay in deciding mercy petitions by the president and insanity were the grounds for courts to commute death sentences to life imprisonment.

This was stated to the bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam, Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Shiva Kirti Singh by Additional Solicitor General Siddhartha Luthra.

Counsel Ram Jethmalani, appearing for V. Sriharan alias Murugan, Perarivalan and Santhan, opposed the deferment of the hearing of the petitions by the three death row convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

Jethmalani told the court he had serious apprehensions that the government was seeking the postponement of the hearing as it was planning to move a plea seeking review of the court’s Jan 21, 2014, verdict.

As Jethmalani expressed his apprehension, Luthra told the court that while the review of the verdict was under consideration, he was seeking time so that Attorney General may lead in the matter.

The court earlier ruled that inordinate and unexplained delay in deciding mercy petitions and insanity, mental illness, Schizophrenia could be the grounds for commuting death sentence to life imprisonment.

As Jethmalani urged the court that he be allowed to start his arguments Thursday, the court said it would prefer that the Attorney General be present when he advances his case on behalf of three death row convicts.

Rajiv Gandhi’s assassins were convicted by the TADA court in January 1998 and were awarded death sentences. The sentence was confirmed by the apex court May 11, 1999.

In August 2012, their mercy petitions were rejected and as the date of their execution was fixed, the Madras High court intervened and the execution of their death sentences was stayed.

Subsequently, on a plea by MDMK leader Vaiko, the matter before the Madras High Court was transferred to the Supreme Court and would be heard from Thursday.

IANS